Hoyas outlast Texas Tech No. 2 seed wins game marred by fouls, 98-90, advances to East final

Ncaa Tournament

March 22, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

ATLANTA -- The Southwest Conference built its reputation on football, so it was appropriate that its basketball history came to a close at a football stadium, with one of its teams doing a pretty good job of blocking and tackling.

The SWC never has produced an NCAA basketball champion in its 82 years, and it never will, after Texas Tech's physically brutal 98-90 loss to Georgetown at the Georgia Dome last night.

The second-seeded Hoyas (29-7) will be in search of their first Final Four appearance in 11 years tomorrow, when they play Massachusetts in the East Regional final. Coach John Thompson has to hope Georgetown has something left after a 2-hour, 40-minute game that included 59 fouls, the second-highest total ever in a regional game.

Georgetown played the last eight minutes without center Othella Harrington, but it mattered little. Tony Battie, his counterpart, had fouled out two minutes before that.

"There were an awful lot of fouls," Thompson said. "Both of us are aggressive teams, and it seemed like the game would never end."

Allen Iverson, the most aggressive player on the court, somehow avoided the whistles until the 36th minute. The sophomore guard, the player most responsible for returning the Hoyas to the nation's elite, missed 19 of his 29 shots, but he had 32 points, five assists and five steals.

Harrington held the Hoyas together in the first half, making eight of nine shots, and finished with 23 points. Jason Sasser, who didn't sit until he fouled out with seven seconds left, had 25 for the Red Raiders.

Third-seeded Texas Tech (30-2), which will become part of the Big 12 next year after the SWC disbands, took a 50-47 lead at the half. It was on pace to become the first team in 20 years to score 100 against a Thompson team, but the pace proved to be too much for the Red Raiders.

One of four teams in the nation to go unbeaten in conference play, Texas Tech had been in this type of game maybe two or three times. Georgetown was doing this once a week in the Big East.

"We have an outstanding league," Thompson said. "I told our guys at the half: 'We play in the Big East, we're used to tough games.' "

The Red Raiders had runs of 10-1 and 10-0 in the first half, and a 9-2 spurt pushed their lead to 61-53 with 14: 37 left, but Georgetown answered with 17 unanswered points. Texas Tech came back and had several chances to tie, the last with 4: 11 left, when Cory Carr, its best free-throw shooter, missed one at the line.

Georgetown scored the next nine points, but Texas Tech kept fighting and got it down to 91-86 with 42.5 seconds left. But they didn't have enough bodies to stay with the Hoyas, who outscored them 23-7 at the free-throw line in the second half, when the Red Raiders committed 22 of their 35 fouls, third-most ever in a regional game.

"Any time you have to play behind against Georgetown, it's really hard," Sasser said. "We just ran out of gas and Georgetown kept sticking it to us."

Two of the nastiest fouls occurred seven seconds apart. Jahidi ++ White, who got a technical in the first half when he thought he didn't bump Darvin Ham, knocked him to the floor with 3: 30 left and the Hoyas clinging to a 79-76 lead. Ham missed both free throws, and promptly floored Victor Page at the other end.

Though Texas Tech hadn't won an NCAA tournament game in 20 years before last week, coach James Dickey had the Red Raiders in position to do what his mentor, Eddie Sutton, did a year ago, when No. 4 seed Oklahoma State sneaked into the East Regional and left with a Final Four berth.

Texas Tech used glass to build its halftime lead, as it out-rebounded Georgetown 27-16. It prospered on the offensive board, denied the Hoyas second shots and generally played harder and smarter.

Harrington's dunk forced a tie at 32 with 5: 27 left in the first half, but Texas Tech answered with a 10-0 run that featured some sharp passing in transition. The Hoyas scored the next seven points, however, and got within 50-47 at the half.

"The big difference was Georgetown's defense," Dickey said. "We had 22 turnovers, which tied a season high for us. . . . We didn't handle the pressure that Georgetown put on us very well. We didn't make good decisions and we didn't play well in the stretch."

Pub Date: 3/22/96

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